What is Gingivitis?
Hearing from your dentists that you or your child has gingivitis is daunting. It means a lack of proper oral hygiene but is easy to remedy if you catch it soon enough.
Gingivitis is a non-destructive periodontal disease caused by inflammation of the gingiva (tissues that surround and support the teeth). Inflammation could occur because of a buildup of plaque, a naturally occurring sticky film filled with bacteria. Plaque releases toxins that lead to irritation of the gums, which results in inflammation. Unfortunately, it is a widespread dental problem, and many people suffer from it at one time or another. Gingivitis is rare in children but mainly begins during early childhood or puberty. It can occur and disappear throughout one’s lifespan.
An individual might be unaware that they have gingivitis since it can be a mild type of gum disease. It causes little or no pain. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis. Periodontitis is more severe and may eventually cause loss of teeth.
One symptom of gingivitis is bad breath. Bad breath stems from the same harmful bacteria that cause gingivitis. Healthy gums are firm and tightly fitted around the teeth. They are pale pink in color. Once affected by gingivitis, gums become swollen and puffy and are dark red in color. Other symptoms of gingivitis include bleeding and tender gums. It would help if you did not ignore these signs, as they could signify more serious problems.
Gum disease can mean you have several health problems like heart disease and diabetes that affect the whole body. (x) This gum disease can disappear in a few days so long as one practices good oral hygiene.
Types of Gingivitis
There are two primary forms of gingival diseases: (x)
- Dental plaque-induced gingival disease
- Stems from malnutrition, plaque, medications and systemic factors, you can control this category.
Non-plaque induced gingival lesions
It results from fungus, virus infection or by a specific bacterium. It can also stem from reactions to foreign bodies like dentures, systemic conditions like allergic reactions or genetic factors. Sometimes, there may be no specific cause.
- Swollen Gums
When gums become inflamed, they turn red and become sensitive to the touch because toxins attack them as plaque releases the poisons. These toxins irritate the gum tissue. They pile up on the gum line, which many consider the leading cause of gingivitis. (x)
- Dark Red Gums
Red gums are an obvious sign of gingivitis. They may also be dusky red — the color changes from the usual pale pink in healthy gums. (x)
- Receding Gums
Gum recession is typical in many people with gingivitis. Recessed gums tend to reveal a more significant part of the tooth as compared to healthy gums. Thus, teeth appear longer than when compared to their size before the gum disease developed. (x)
- Bad Breath
Also known as halitosis. Chronic foul breath is the primary warning sign of gingivitis. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), bad breath indicates poor dental care. Foul breath may come in tandem with an unpleasant taste in the mouth. Millions of bacteria could trigger it in the plaque that produces smelly waste products. (x) (x)
Other Symptoms of Gingivitis
- A Pocket Between Tooth and Gum
A patch or area may develop between the tooth and gum. There may be several pockets in the mouth. Food particles may get into these pockets and cause the growth of bacteria. These bacteria may irritate the gum tissue and, if not treated, can lead to the development of an infection.
- Pus Between the Tooth and Gum
Gingivitis can occur if a thick, yellow fluid builds up in the space between the tooth and gum. An individual who develops this fluid in the pocket between the tooth and gum may experience pain in case there is a buildup of pressure in the fluid. Pus forms if an infection occurs in the pockets between the tooth and gums. (x) At this point, the infection could signify a periodontal abscess or gum abscess. (x)
- Tooth Pain or Sensitivity
When there is gum recession, a large part of the tooth becomes exposed, making the teeth more sensitive to cold beverages and foods.
- Bleeding Gums
People with gingivitis may have bleeding gums, especially when they brush or floss because the gum tissue is weak because of bacterial infection.
- Loose Teeth
A condition that refers to the way the teeth fit when a person bites down. It could indicate the presence of periodontitis.
Individuals who suffer from gingivitis may have one or all of these symptoms of gingivitis. One should see a doctor if they suspect the presence of any gum disease.
Who Can Get Gingivitis?
Groups that are at increased risk of developing gingivitis are:
- Individuals taking medication like cyclosporine and anti-epilepsy medicines
- Pregnant women or those taking birth control pills
- Individuals with poorly managed diabetes (x)
Knowing the causes of this health concern and help you prevent it because prevention is crucial when it comes to oral hygiene:
- Plaque Buildup
Plaque buildup typically comes as a result of poor oral hygiene. Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria that accumulates between and around the teeth. The plaque forms when sugar and starch in food come into contact with bacteria found in the mouth. Once the plaque forms, it triggers an immune response, which will eventually cause the destruction of gingival tissue. (x)
Remove the plaque on a daily basis because it rebuilds quickly. If not removed, the plaque hardens into tartar or calculus at the bottom of the teeth.
- Hormonal Changes
These include the menstrual period, pregnancy, menopause and puberty. These changes may trigger the sensitivity and inflammation of the gums. They make it easier for gingivitis to occur. It would be best if you improve their dental care while undergoing these physical changes. (x) (x)
- Poor Oral Hygiene
Failure to brush or floss regularly puts an individual at a greater risk of developing the condition — it makes it easier for gingivitis to develop. However, one can easily avoid this issue. (x)
Medications can also affect oral health. Some interfere with the flow of saliva, which has a protective role on teeth and gums. Some drugs like Procardia, Adalat and the anticonvulsant medication Dilantin can cause abnormal development of gum tissue. (x) (x)
Tobacco use is a significant risk factor related to gum disease and may decrease the possibility of successful treatment. Research shows that smokers are at a greater risk of developing gingivitis by up to 7 times that of non-smokers. (x)
- Chronic Diseases
Diseases like HIV, diabetes and cancer lower the body’s ability to defend itself from infections like gum disease. Patients with diabetes are more prone because it impairs the body’s ability to synthesize blood sugar. (x) (x)
- Poor Nutrition
Lack of proper nutrition deprives your body of beneficial health nutrients and makes it difficult for your body to protect itself from an infection like gingivitis. (x) For example, vitamin C deficiency causes gum disease.
- Family History of the Dental Disease
Your family history has a significant factor in the development of gingivitis. Children with a parent that had gingivitis are at a greater risk of developing the same. It can also manifest because of bacteria acquired during childhood. (x)
Health concerns associated with stress like cancer and hypertension. It is also a risk factor for gum diseases. Stress makes it difficult for the body to combat and fight off infections, including gingivitis. (x)
Maintaining oral health requires prevention to help you avoid problems in the future. Prevention is essential when it comes to oral hygiene:
- Use of Anti-Gingivitis Toothpaste
One should use toothpaste that can get rid of plaque from the teeth and around the gum line.
- Toothbrush Replacement
Every three months, when the bristles of your toothbrush become worn out as they can only get rid of less plaque, you should replace your toothbrush.
- Good Oral Hygiene
Brush your teeth regularly. Brush in the morning and before heading to bed. It is also advisable to brush after a meal or snack. Floss at least once daily. Flossing before brushing allows the loose bacteria and food particles to wash away more quickly. (x)
- Practicing Good Health Practices
Healthy habits like healthy eating and controlling blood sugar for individuals with diabetes are essential in managing and maintaining gum health. (x)
- Regular Dental Visits
Visiting a dentist regularly for cleaning keeps gingivitis away. Visits should occur at intervals of six to 12 months. Professional cleaning is essential for people with risk factors like smoking, dry mouth and medications. Annual dental x-rays can identify diseases unnoticed by the naked eye and monitor any changes in a patient’s dental health. (x)
Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis
Both gingivitis and periodontitis are types of periodontal disease. However, gingivitis is reversible, while periodontitis is not due to the fact that periodontitis involves bone loss that you cannot recover. Progressive and untreated gingivitis can develop into periodontitis.
Gingivitis Remedies and Supplements
Sustaining oral health requires applying remedies and supplements, which you should check with your physician when starting any new supplement. Once the health concern is detected, you need to take a proactive approach to handle the problem to prevent any issues in the future:
- Gingivitis Medications
Treatments that can fight against gingivitis include:
- Oral antibiotics
Antibiotics can curb persistent areas of gum inflammation. (x)
- Antiseptic mouthwash
Antiseptic mouthwash with chlorhexidine can help in disinfecting the mouth. (x)
- Flap surgery
The dentist lifts the gums back during this procedure while tartar and plaque are removed from huge pockets. After, the dentist sutures the gums in place to adjust them well around the tooth. (x)
- Bone and tissue grafts
The dentist applies grafts in case the teeth and jaw become severely damaged. (x)
This antibiotic can prevent enzymes from triggering tooth decay. (x)
Natural Supplements for Gingivitis
Supplementing your body to take care of your teeth is a wise choice. Discuss this with your dentist to make sure it aligns with your overall oral hygiene and health:
- Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is essential in dental health as it helps get rid of disease-causing bacteria found in the mouth. (x) It is actually a popular ingredient in various tooth gels. As a dietary supplement, take 1,000 mg of aloe vera extract powder once daily with 8 oz of water or beverage of choice or as directed by a physician.
Many health professionals regard turmeric as a superfood. It is effective in preventing gingivitis and keeping plaque at bay. (x) This is primarily thanks to its anti-inflammatory benefits. It has an active component called curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory agent with a powerful antioxidant effect. (x) Take 1,000 mg of curcumin natural turmeric extract powder once a day. Take it along with water or a meal.
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Prevention is the best solution to handling gingivitis. The following regimes may help you keep this health concern at bay:
- Hydrogen Peroxide Gargle
Gargling with hydrogen peroxide is a proven scientific preventive measure. You swish diluted peroxide around inside your mouth for up to three minutes, don’t swallow it, considerably reduces plaque and retards gingivitis development. (x)
- Sesame Oil Pulling
Swishing sesame oil in your mouth or oil pulling is a technique that includes swishing oil in your mouth for systemic and oral health advantages. It’s a traditional Indian remedy as a treatment for strengthening jaws, gums and teeth to prevent gingivitis, dryness of the throat, tooth decay, cracked lips, and oral malodor (bad breath.) The concept is not new, and Ayurvedic ancient teacher, Charaka Samhita, discusses the therapy.
First thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, take a tablespoon of sesame oil into your mouth. Sip, suck, pull it between your teeth for 10 to 15 minutes. The thick oil turns thin, then milky white. The swishing draws toxins out of your blood and activates enzymes. Do not swallow the oil as it contains toxins and bacteria. Spit it out in a plastic-lined garbage can, not the sink, as it will clog the pipes. Brush your teeth and rinse your mouth out. (x)
You can also use coconut and olive oils for this pulling procedure.
The Bottom Line
Gingivitis is a common dental problem that can cause bad breath and poor oral health. It is typically a result of the formation of plaque around the base of the teeth and on the gums.
Poor dental health can lead to gingivitis, and health issues like diabetes and cancer can also trigger the condition. Treatment options for gingivitis include taking oral antibiotics, bone and tissue grafts and flap surgery, among many others.
Natural remedies for gingivitis are less painful and more therapeutic. They include taking aloe vera powder extract and turmeric powder extract.
Prevention is the most effective solution to gingivitis, which includes taking care of your teeth. You might also consider gargling with hydrogen peroxide and oil pulling as proven therapies for excellent oral health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.